Monday, March 29, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 43

Dear Friends,

After a long delay we're writing again. We apologize for this hiatus. We're both well. After my stroke and hospitalization several weeks ago, I cancelled my upcoming international trips and will be at home for several months. My challenge now is to slow the schedule here with the goal of "recharging" from the last 30 months of intensity.

Last Friday we had Rebecca's appointment with the Neurosurgeon. The report was good; the spinal chord is not compressed at any point. The doctor showed us the MRIs and X-rays - the first time for us to see these. The damaged part of the spinal chord was evident, but there is no further pressure on it. The doctor was encouraged that Rebecca is still making progress, even in tiny steps.

From Rebecca: "One of the main things I wanted to speak with the doctor about was the recent changes I've felt in terms of increased numbness. I was encouraged by his report, and know now that I will have fluctuations in sensation and spacticity.

Several weeks ago, when I first began to experience a new numbness on the left side, I felt upset. The next morning I went before the Lord and cried out to Him: 'Don't tell me there will be something else. I don't know if I can bear it.' And He quietly reminded me: 'Change is necessary for you.'

George MacDonald, the Scottish writer and poet of the 19th and early 20th centuries, said: 'How changed must the human soul be to fellowship with the God of the universe?' Remembering that, I began to thank Him that even in this change, He would adjust my soul to be able to know Him better.

On the same morning, I found an excerpt by Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751), a French Jesuit priest. 'God's order and His divine will is the life of all souls who either seek or obey it. In whatever way this divine will may benefit the mind, it nourishes the soul. These blessed results are not produced by any particular circumstance, but by what God ordains for the present moment. What was best a moment ago is so no longer, because it is removed from the divine will which has passed on to be changed to form the duty to the next. And it is that duty, whatever that may be, that is now most sanctifying for the soul.' I wept as I read it to realize once again how faithful Father is to speak to me.

It is a lovely reality that when change comes, it will always turn out for our growth in Him - enabling us to more fully fellowship with Him.

'Father, help us remember this in the little changes as well as the big ones.'"

Our love to all, Paul & Rebecca

PS Josie has been in the States for a couple of weeks, and a Swedish friend of hers, Sarah, has been here to help with Rebecca. She is a sweetheart! Judy is in the States for a couple of months, and will return 30 April. Annie comes regularly, as she is able, and has been a wonderful help.

Josie will be leaving in May, and Stephen in August, so we're still seeking the Lord for who will help care for Rebecca after than. Thanks for joining us in praying about this most important issue.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 42

Greetings, Friends,

It is a cold, snowy day in Belgium - unusual, but delightful. Our son Matt and his wife Stephanie are en route to spend a couple of days with us - even more delightful.

I have a personal health report to give. Rebecca's thoughts will follow, as they are related to this recent development.

I returned from an extended trip to North America on 12 February. Rebecca and I had our first "date" since her accident, just the two of us, on Valentines Day, the 14th. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of our engagement. On Monday, 16 February, en route into Brussels, I had a mini-stroke, followed by 2 more after I returned home. At my doctors' suggestion, I was taken to the hospital and admitted. The following day I had another episode, which left me with some limited movement in my left hand and droopiness on the left side of my mouth. Five days of extensive exams followed. The doctors were not able to definitely identify the source, but think that some blood had clotted in one of the upper chambers of my heart, and had broken loose, going to my head. Each episode resulted in short term loss of speech capacity. That is behind me now.

I've been home from the hospital for about a week, and have canceled my next several international trips, to both recover, and listen to the Lord.

While in the hospital I read Hebrews 12 again: "…let us run with perseverance the race marked our for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfected of our faith… Consider Him…" I greatly appreciated to commanded point of focus: Jesus. Faith is what we live by, but He is the author and perfected of that. Our job is to keep eyes, hearts and minds fixed firmly on Him, and to view all our circumstances through Him. I'm so grateful that the Father has made Jesus the center of all things.

Rebecca: "As you can imagine, the events which Paul has just recounted were difficult for me. It is surely harder when the Lord allows our loved ones to be touched, than when He does the same for ourselves.

The evening that Paul spent in the ER, Tracy and Judy stayed with me. (Robert and Stephen were with Paul.) I had moments of weeping, and moments of rest and faith - vacillating between the two. The next morning as I awakened, it was such a sick feeling realizing that my beloved was in the hospital. I went to the Lord, and happened to be reading in Matt. 14. It is always a wonder to me that He is so faithful to meet us wherever we are. I came to verse 22: 'Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side.' Later it says that the waves and wind were against them. He made them go into rough seas. Then He came walking to them on those rough seas. When they saw Him, they didn't recognize Him
and were 'terrified, "it's a ghost", they cried'. In the midst of the storm, in the midst of their fear, they couldn't see clearly. Verse 27 says: 'But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."' When I read this, I was so touched by the fact that He made them go into the storm; He was in the storm. I realized once again that He was in our storm. Oh, how could I forget! 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.' With those words, such peace came to me, such quietness.

I thought of all of you, and what your storms might be, and prayed for you. 'Lord help us to see You in the storm, however great or small. When You are there, then I'm at peace."'

Our love to you all,